A Matter of Perception: Tradition & Technology

More than just 32,000 times grazie mille

After the successful first edition of A Matter of Perception during the Salone del Mobile last year, DAMN° and Mosca Partners again invited the most interesting protagonists in international design to present new work at Palazzo Litta, itself a magnificent example of late Baroque and early Rococo architecture in the very heart of Milan. During Milan Design Week in April, 32,000 people came to see the exhibits and attend the parties, engage in professional meetings and informal encounters, become amazed by novelties and surprises, and discover design and crafts in the decadent ornamental palace, all of which was arranged under the theme: A Matter of Perception: Tradition and Technology, illustrating how home-grown traditions go hand in hand with modern technology.

Veerle Devos May 2016
The central meeting point was the special pavilion in Palazzo Litta’s inner courtyard, this year designed by Berlin-based Burkinabé architect Diébédo Francis Kéré: a Courtyard Village that included a landscape of wild grasses (erba palustre). Kéré’s much-prized pavilion (realised with the support of Casone and Mutti, Eterno Ivica, Euroambiente, Reggiani Illuminazione, and Gaggenau) accommodated a series of talks and live interviews. Also presented were Kéré’s ZIBA stools, produced by Riva 1920. In the arcade surrounding the courtyard, visitors could enjoy the Alu tables and chairs designed by Belgian design duo muller van severen for valerie_objects.

In the Mirror Room on the first floor of the Palazzo, Italian engineer and designer Alberto Meda interpreted the theme through his story of the Physix chair he designed for Vitra. After last year’s widely approved experience, Italian designers and teachers Michele De Lucchi and Andrea Branzi again worked with their students of Interior Design at the Politecnico di Milano, this time creating a collection of miniatures on the theme of chaos in the contemporary world.
Continuing the tradition, DAMN° and Mosca Partners presented fresh entries, including new works by young international talents and brands. Two different projects bridging Europe and Asia were on display: a furniture collection for Journey East by Lanzavecchia + Wai, a creative collaboration between Italian Francesca Lanzavecchia and Singaporean Hunn Wai; and a furniture collection for Mile- stone Design by mist-o, the Tokyo - and Milan-based designer-duo Noa Ikeuchi and Tommaso Nani. Swedish designer and innovator Love Hultèn exhibited his retro-futuristic handmade wooden gaming units, while Italian-Brazilian designer Leo Di Caprio showed a collection of cabinets in collaboration with AuCap. The brand Astep by Alessandro Sarfatti launched its first products by Francisco Gomez Paz, Vittoriano Viganò, and Gino Sarfatti.
Palazzo Litta's courtyard, with the pavilion made by architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, in collaboration with Casone, Mutti, Euroambiente, Gaggenau, Eterno Ivica, and Riva 1920.© Rafael Medina-Adalfio
Meanwhile, German designer Jan Kath, a forerunner in contemporary carpets, created a magical atmosphere in the Red Room, and PLH presented new-technology OLED switch plates.

Finnish designer Ilkka Suppanen showed work which combined handicraft and digital production, and Prague-based design studio DECHEM presented an interior collection of postmodern-inspired furniture and glass vases. Italian brand Alcantara showcased its innovative material by way of conceptual installations by Italian-duo Formafantasma and Swedish-Chilean designer Anton Alvarez. Antwerp-based valerie_objects showed a new collection by muller van severen and cutlery by Dutch designer Maarten Baas & Japanese designer Koichi Futatsumata. J. HILL’s Standard presented Secant, the latest project by Daniel Rybakken, while Matteo Ragni displayed two installations: one at the Grand Staircase, emphasising the high-performance rubber flooring produced by Artigo, and the other on the main floor, an emotional installation in collaboration with Italian brand Linvisibile, Our long-time friends, Swiss low-tech brand Punkt., also featured its products in the palace, including the recently launched MP 01 mobile phone by British designer Jasper Morrison, and also presented the results of its semester-long collaboration with students from ECAL University of Art and Design in Lausanne.
Erba Palustre surrounding Francis Kéré's Courtyard Village, provided by Euroambiente © Rafael Medina-Adalfio
On top of all this was the seventh edition of Belgium is Design in Milan: ‘Belgian Matters’ featured the results of pairings between 13 designers and companies, many of the latter coming from sectors far removed from that of furniture design. Each project had been commissioned especially for the event and was seen for the first time during the Salone. We’re proud to mention that it was DAMN°’s very own art director Siegrid Demyttenaere who curated this exhibition. You are cordially invited to attend the next edition of A Matter of Perception during Milan Design Week in 2017! For an impression of the exhibitions or to see the videos of our talks and interviews, or even to enjoy the general atmosphere, visit the DAMN° website!
This article appeared in DAM56. Order your personal copy.
Diébédo Francis Kéré in the erba palustre he used around his Courtyard Pavilion at Palazzo Litta: a wild plant that grows spontaneously alongside Italian rivers, provided by Italian landscape design company Euroambiente. © Rafael Medina-Adalfio

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Veerle Devos

Veerle Devos (aka VOS) is a historian who has been active in journalism for many years, working with DAMNº since 2005. She's co-founder of the Office for Urban Reporting, a research centre and production house that investigates and communicates about 21st-century urbanisation. In her free time she’s preparing a personal travel guide for Portugal.

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